Model Railroad Club opens Waynecastle doors to public

PAT FRIDGEN
Jared Brake, 18, has been a member of the Waynesboro Model Railroad Club for four years.The puffing engine gets its smoke from a special blend of kerosene. Brake and other members of the club will be present for the open houses in January, eager to answer questions and point out features.

The Waynesboro Model Railroad Club opens its doors with several open houses in January. The members want to share their passion of designing and redesigning layouts with the public. Their year-round Tuesday night meetings culminate in the afternoons when young and old alike can capture some of the awe the club feels when they 'play' with their model trains.

The club has four different railroads on display in an old grain mill on Route 16 at Waynecastle Road. Visitors may stop in between 1 and 5 p.m. Jan. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 28 and 29. The event is free but donations are accepted.

The Waynecastle Central HO Scale on the main floor covers a 30x50 foot area and has been maintained since 1990. The tracks wind around a mountain, which sometimes gets trimmed to make room for a new scene. The trains pass factories, a stone quarry, a rail hub and run through tunnels. An industrial city sits off to the side. One section appeals to tots, with trains and children's figures at eye level. A new house on the hill is perched precariously ala Kansas, after the Wizard of Oz tornado. Club member Shawna Ballantine said it was new, and more work would occur at that scene. She was busy with last minute construction projects and would get to the house eventually.

Ballantine enjoys her one night away to tend to the model railroads. "It's a way to play and do artistic stuff at the same time."

Club president John Chillas agreed. The 14 members each have their specialities. Some prefer to concentrate on the trains, others on the scenery. Thousands of miniature figures dot the landscapes of the three rooms, replicating real life situations.

The N-Scale layout at the top of the stairs has city and country scenery. The room is decorated with Norfolk Southern calendars from years gone by. As the smallest gauge, the little trains run quietly. A cleaner car was rubbing debris off the tracks.

"We work on this all the time," said Rick Brake. "It's never done."

The 3-rail O-Scale goes through the Chewsville station in the largest room on the upper level. The team added lights to many of the buildings. John Carson cut painted windows out of some structures to add interior illumination, one more time-consuming task. Bill Summers built a pier from scratch. Bleachers in a baseball field hold 500 tiny people, courtesy of Al Tharp.

A 2-rail Scale O circles the room. New features allow children to activate certain operations.

Chillas has been with the club for 21 years. His philosophy for participation is, "This is a great hobby. Other than spending too much money, you can't get into trouble."

Information on the club is available at waynesboromodelrrclub.com